As a twenty year old woman, I’m beginning to realize that society is not built for my sexual safety. Try as we might by providing escorts to cars and well-lit parking lots and little pepper spray cans and self-defense classes, these things are for my protection, not safety.
I think there is an important distinction there when discussing the rampant problem of sexual assault. According to Dictionary.com, protection is defined as “preservation from injury or harm.” Safety is defined as the “freedom from the occurrence or risk of injury, danger, or loss.”
Protection is a step to be taken, something that carries the connotation of responsibility. Safety is a state in which to reside. It’s comfortable to those who have it.
As a woman, I do not have that safety. I have protection, but the moment I forget to take those precautions, some believe I’m deserving assault. If my skirt is too short, some argue that I am asking to be taken advantage of. Since when do skirts and legs speak? I’m pretty sure that the job of speaking is dedicated to my mouth. I’m also 110% sure it would be screaming no to anyone who attempted to take advantage of me.
The whole concept of victim-blaming is absurd. How does my skirt length, my alcohol intake, my lack of a pepper spray can, my (insert any other excuse here) result in someone forcing themselves onto me? Or anyone else for that matter? It concerns me how many precautions society tells women to take, when the real problem is the attackers themselves.
When do we turn to the assailants and teach them basic respect for another human being and how to listen to a ‘no’ or recognize negative body language? How about we start teaching the attackers not to attack instead of saying that victims should know better than to be attacked?
As a human being, I deserve safety. Not protection. Not guidelines of which I should follow in order not to be raped. I deserve the “freedom from the occurrence or risk of injury, danger, or loss.”